The Dangers of Walking and Talking

By on Sep 15, 2015

As safe drivers and responsible community members, I know we are all aware that you just can’t use your mobile phone while driving. There have been far too many horrific stories on our news feeds of the horrendous, sometimes fatal outcomes of this highly-illegal practice.

But what about using your phone while walking? Surely this is the lesser of two evils?

Well no. Many doctors and experts now believe that using your mobile phone while walking is in fact responsible for more injuries than using a smartphone when driving. The recent story of a poor Chinese girl who got caught in a drain as she was texting and walking should be a reminder to us all!

According to a 2013 study by Ohio State University, the number of pedestrian injuries involving mobile phones tripled between 2004 and 2010 in the U.S., while the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped. These pedestrian injuries weren’t just broken toes. One case involved a teenage boy walking straight off a bridge into a ditch while talking on his mobile phone and another man was hit by car while walking across the road and chatting on his phone. So this is a serious matter!

Researchers believe that these statistics could even be higher as some patients would clearly be embarrassed to admit their phone usage caused the accident and not all injuries would be reported. But it is clear: walking and talking is not safe!

The most surprising statistic from the study was that talking on the phone accounted for a whopping 69%of the injuries compared to only 9%because of texting. What’s not surprising is that it was 16-25 year olds who were most likely to be injured.

In 2014, National Geographic undertook its own social experiment to test the ‘digitally distracted’ and created a ‘cellphone’ and ‘non-cellphone’ lane at a busy block in Washington D.C. The experiment was for the channel’s show ‘Mind Over Masses,’ which uses insight into human behaviour to develop solutions to everyday problems.  According to observers, the test unfortunately didn’t do much to change traffic patterns. Most pedestrians either ignored or photographed the lanes with few adhering to the suggested lanes.

Inspired by the social experiment in D.C., the Chongqing province in China adopted a similar strategy. A separate lane for phone users was marked on the footpath in order to prevent injuries from distracted users and protect local residents in the area. Local authorities commented that they were trying to tackle the distracted mobile phone usage issue problem in a humorous way. No results have yet been formalised.

So, as parents armed with the job of teaching our kids how to be safe and responsible citizens, what should we do?

Here are my top tips:

  • Model responsible mobile phone behaviour. Don’t walk and talk!
  • Share (appropriate) news stories relating to the perils
  • Include no walking and talking in the same category as no texting and driving – it just can’t happen!

Till next time,

Safe Walking!

Alex xx

About the Author

Cyber Safety Ambassador

McAfee’s Cyber Safety Ambassador for Australia and New Zealand, Alex, is a mother of four boys who juggles family, work, home life, hobbies and her children’s ever growing social lives (on and offline). Like many parents, Alex has concerns about the safety of her children, who are growing up online world. Alex’s blogs are about ...

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